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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Confessions of a Civil War Newbie

Hi Afrigeneas Writers:

Recently I spoke with a group of teenagers about African-American history. They spouted off the wonderful contributions of our "top of mind" heroes from Dr. King, Harriet Tubman to WW II military heroes like the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.

Digging deeper, they never knew that Harriet Tubman's greatest contribution was as a Union Army spy in the Civil War. Her brilliance and heroism led to the emancipation of thousands of slaves. The teens truly believed that the only Black regiment in the Civil War was wutch-a-ma-callit, from Massachusetts, the movie that Denzel was in. They were shocked to learn that over 200,000 black soldiers and sailors from all over the world fought in the Civil War. These black men came from as far away as China, Russia, and Ireland and as close to home as the South. Their agenda was clear: to fight to the death against the institution of slavery. For their heroism in the face of the enemy, 14 were honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

There are numerous documented reports by the Union Army of African-American troops who stopped the Rebel army in its tracks. Equally important were reports by Confederate officers who would never admit to the heroism of black Union soldiers who fought against them. They did write of their retreat and defeat in battle "in the face of the enemy"....and guess what color some of those "faces" were.

I must confess that I was so-so interested in the Civil War until I clicked onto Bennie McRae's site on the Civil War. From there I found the National Parks Service's US Colored Troops site. I plugged in my family name and found 9 of my ancestors and relatives listed. Some of them served in the legendary Corps D'Afrique.

When I went back to McRae's site and read the reports about the incredible gift that Black men and women gave to our freedom, I was hooked on the Civil War.

Unfortunately the National Parks' site is down.

McRae's site is up and always running. Move over Kenny Burns, we have a lot more to tell about the Civil War. Here's the URL for "Lest We Forget.

History never lies....only the people who interpret it.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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